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From Dorm Room to Solitude

Over the moon about life without a roommate, I jumped at the opportunity to live alone off-campus for my junior year of college. As someone who needs alone time, values my personal space and loves a structured routine, living with a roommate in college was a major struggle. Differing priorities, sleeping schedules and living habits can make sharing a room with someone you barely know incredibly difficult.

Who came up with this idea of having a roommate in college anyway? Adjusting to college life is a challenge in itself, let alone with no privacy. I can still recall many nights my freshman year of college that ended in a phone call with my mom. Homesick and overwhelmed, my voice would break, emotions would surface and I would blink away the hot tears stinging my eyes. It would’ve been nice to have my nervous breakdown in solitude, but another person was watching the same romantic comedy for the umpteenth time just 10 feet away.

Naturally, living alone sounded appealing to me. When I spoke to my parents about the idea, they were nothing but caring and supportive. A few months into our search for a place, we luckily stumbled across an affordable one bedroom apartment that I absolutely fell in love with.

Making your space feel like home is crucial to your mental health in college. For many, college is the first time being away from home for extended periods of time. When I was a freshman, my room was a place I’d go to primarily for sleep because I didn’t enjoy spending time in my room throughout the day. Living alone, your space can hopefully be a place of relaxation and contentment. So, decorate in your style, clean when you want (or don’t), turn on your favorite Netflix series and crank that thermostat to just how you like it, within budget of course!

Of course, living alone off-campus likely means living a commute away from campus, the grocery store and the gym among other things. So, an important factor to consider is transportation. Be sure to find a means of travelling to and from your place that you can rely on whether its public transport, biking or driving.

A myth that surrounds living alone is that you will inevitably feel lonely. I have not found this claim to be true by any means. Having the freedom to surround myself with people or to be completely alone has been one of the biggest blessing of living by myself. There are so many ways to build community and stay involved other than living on campus. Make plans to get together with friends, join organizations on campus and introduce yourself to those who live near you. Loneliness is completely avoidable.

The greatest challenge that comes with living by yourself is holding yourself accountable for waking up on time, buying groceries, and staying on top of work among other things. This makes developing a consistent routine vital to your success as an independent woman conquering living alone in college!

Here are five tips to guide you in settling into a routine:

  1. Wake up at the same time every day and go to bed around the same time every night.
  2. Set a specific day to do laundry and dishes to make sure those things are not put on the back burner.
  3. Keep your morning routine consistent to ensure you get out the door on time.
  4. Make a list of items to get at grocery store before you go to ensure you are only buying what you need.
  5. Incorporate time into your schedule to just relax and enjoy the freedom of doing what you want!

Photos by T.Kyle, Designecologist, and Matthew T Rader

Katie is a senior at Belmont University studying public relations and corporate communication. Since elementary school, she's had an immense love for writing and storytelling, which led to her pursuing opportunities to continue these passions in college. In addition to writing and storytelling, Katie enjoys being outdoors, volunteering in the community, reading and spending time with loved ones.
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